Revised Army interrogation manual held up by secrecy concerns

[JURIST] The release of a revised US Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation [current text] has been delayed while Defense Department [official website] officials continue to debate whether a portion of the manual should remain secret. Discussions have been underway for over a year on updates to the field manual, but officials have not been able to agree on whether specific guidelines on interrogation techniques [JURIST report] should be classified. This portion of the manual would describe specifically what constitutes acceptable interrogation practices, and concerns have been raised that making this information public would enable terrorists to prepare for interrogation while knowing the limits that US forces are authorized to reach. On the other hand, rights activists and some members of Congress have said that if part of the manual remains classified, there is no way to ensure that the guidelines fall within the bounds of US and international law. Last year, Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act [JURIST document], which prohibits "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" of detainees "under the physical control of the United States Government."

The field manual is being revised after the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal [JURIST news archives] and in light of concerns that Abu Ghraib interrogators did not have clear instruction on what they were allowed to do. Military lawyers have also raised concern that interrogation methods employed at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] are inconsistent with the field manual [JURIST report]. AP has more.

 

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